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tv   The Last Word  MSNBC  April 9, 2012 7:00pm-8:00pm PDT

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noted that senator mikulski is the chair of the senate subcommittee that's in charge of nasa's budget. so while this could be a case of deeply politicized supernova naming rights, even if it is, it is obviously the best new supernova naming rights quid pro quo thing in the world today. and of that, i am sure. thanks for being with us tonight. now it's time for the last word with lawrence o'donnell. have a great night. "saturday night live" has zeroed in on the core weakness of the romney campaign, and that weakness turns out to be mitt romney. >> it's all coming to the for the republican party. >> you know, when people ask me, mitt, just how many piercings do you have, i always say, more than i need, but less than i want. >> looks like they found their nominee. >> this guy is not a good politician. >> a detached guy. >> wildly out of touch. >> not one of us. >> a terrible candidate.
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>> can you win a party's nomination for president when hardly anybody in the party likes you? >> mitt is not a perfect candidate. >> the republican base and party is never going to be in love with mitt romney. >> he has a number of problems. >> he's a business guy. >> corporations are people, my friend. >> he needs more than that. >> i'm not concerned about the very poor. we have a safety net there. >> i don't see very much else to work with. >> we've tried charm. let's go boring and dull. >> he offers at this point such a stark contrast to the president's record. >> i'm stuck with him and he's not obama. there you've got the drift. >> i love cars. i love american cars. i like being able to fire people that provide services to me. ♪ o, beautiful, for spacious skies ♪ >> it seems right here. trees are the right height. ♪ for amber waves of grain >> mitt romney actually criticized president obama for being out of touch with the american people. >> out of touch liberals like barack obama say they want a strong economy. >> then romney added, and i mean all americans, millionaires and
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billionaires, everybody. the obama re-election campaign is encouraged by a new poll out today that shows president obama leading mitt romney among swing state independent voters. now, these are the voters who usually decide the outcome in the general election, and it seems the president is ahead of mitt romney with these voters, mostly because they like president obama and they just don't much like mitt romney. the poll from the third way surveyed independent voters in these 12 swing states. among those voters, president obama leads mitt romney 44 to 38%. 57% view president obama favorably and 35% view him unfavorably. while only 41% view mitt romney favorably and basically the same amount, 40%, view him
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unfavorably. "saturday night live" opened the show this weekend with a rendering of mitt romney that seizes on the with one constant in romney's 20-year political career. he will always try to say whatever his audience wants to hear, whether that's an audience of liberal massachusetts voters in 1994 or conservative republican primary voters this year. >> following his primary victories last tuesday in wisconsin, maryland, and washington, d.c., republican front-runner mitt romney made campaign stops in a dozen cities across the country, where he claimed to be interested in things with we know he is not interested in. >> let me tell you here and now, there is one issue on which i will never back down, never cut a deal, never compromise, because it's the core of who i am. cat spaying. it's simply the right thing to do. and quite frankly, the reason i got into this race.
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i want to be known as the cat neutering president. all right. >> because feed posted this photo today from january 1995 of mitt romney at a massachusetts women's political caucus award ceremony. a group dedicated to increasing the number ofomen elected to office. romney famously converted to the extreme anti-abortion position favored by republican primary voters before his first run for their presidency. joining me now is "washington post" opinion writer and msnbc political analyst, jonathan capehart, and "washington post" opinion writer and msnbc political analyst, e.j. dionne, whose a nor fellow at the brookings institution. e.j., i want to play for you something romney said last week,
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echoing a bill o'reilly cheerleading thing about the war on religion, which he assigns to president obama. let's listen to that. >> well, i think, i think there is in this country a war on religion. i think there is a desire to establish a religion in america known as secularism. and i know that based upon reports, the obama administration gave this a lot of thought. a lot of discussion. >> e.j., as our senior religion analyst here, here we've moved beyond any suggestion that the president is a muslim. the only thing that polls worse among voters in terms of what makes them uncomfortable in a candidate religiously than muslim is being an atheist or an agnost agnostic, in this country where we claim to have no religious test, you must pass the religious test, that you believe in some version of religion, preferably christianity, according to all the polls. so here's romney saying that the
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obama administration is trying to establish a religion in this country known as secularism. where does he -- what's he trying to do with that? >> you know, with all those clips making fun of romney, you almost had me feeling sorry for romney. and then you showed that particular clip. i thought what was particularly troubling about it is when he said, there are reports that, you know, as if the government of the united states can declare a new religion. it's just very strange. and it's not an issue that he ought to get into and it's not an issue that obama should get into. and republicans have been saying rightly, some of them orrin hatch, for example, that romney's mormonism shouldn't be an issue in the election and it shouldn't be an issue in the election. and so why he would want to play on this terrain at all is beyond me. but, you know, if i could just
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say something about all that stuff you ran before. i think there are velcro candidates and teflon candidates. teflon candidates like bill clinton and ronald reagan where nothing sticks, and velcro candidates like al gore never even said that "i invented the internet," and yet that stuck to him. and romney, from the ease to which you can play those reels, two cadillacs, and the trees are are right height and all of that, he is looking more and more like a velcro candidate, and this is his core problem. >> and jonathan capehart, he spent easter weekend at his southern california beach mansion, the place i guess where he's trying to put in the elevator for the four cars. but he apparently did body surfing, which my guess is, that's a less politically damaging than wind surfing was for john kerry. >> yes, because lots of people do body surfing. i've never done it, but i know people who have done it and i've seen people do it.
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it looks fun, but it's not for me. >> and jonathan, to the "snl" thing, i think e.j. raises an important point that in 2000, "saturday night live" did some penetrating stuff on al gore that i think gave the electorate a vocabulary in a certain sense for what made them uncomfortable about al gore. and it seems like they've zeroed in on the essential defect in the romney candidacy, which is that pandering, which is that willingness to say anything. which i think as much as anything, was at work in him accusing the president of trag to invent a new religion. that that was just him working his way through some kind of pander. >> right. i've called it in the past, you know, mitt romney has a problem with being ideologically promiscuous. you know, people don't mind someone who will change one bedrock people, because people evolve, people change their views through experience and other things. but when you change your bedrock principles on gun rights, on
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abortion rights, on gay rights, on immigration, you change all of them. you render yourself suspect to the american people, whether they're in your party or not in your party. and clearly, we know that democrats are not going to go out and vote for mitt romney. but as we've seen through the primary process, republicans don't seem all that eager to go out and vote for mitt romney, and this is the one of the reasons why. >> e.j., in the third way poll, we showed -- it actually shows that these independent voters in these swing states align slightly closer to mitt romney's positions than they do to president obama's positions, which makes the ultimate outcome of the polls so much more interesting. that it isn't so much about their positions, that's why we're theorizing that it is about how they perceive these individuals. >> i think one of the things about that poll is if you are undecided between obama and
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romney now, you probably tilt a little bit romney's way, because obama has a pretty big lead in some of the polls in the swing states. so i would have a hunch that these voters are more ideologically similar to romney. and so, yes, i mean, i think that what is intriguing about the poll, and there have been others like it, is that when you put all politics aside and just basically ask favorability questions, which is questions, do you like the guy or not, is what they come down to, obama still has a substantial lead. and i think jonathan is right in pointing to this inconstakoconsn the issues, because there are politicians who lost elections, but people respected a lot and liked personally because they were consistent. bayer goldwater and george mcgovern are two examples. romney gets none of that. and that's why he's had problems with the right end of the republican party, and i think
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will have problems with swing voters who just want to know what does he really believe? >> jonathan, there's good news for the romney candidacy in this poll, based on the basic pitch that they're making to the electorate. they've polled the issue of opportunity versus the issue of fairness. and this week we're going to hear a lot from the obama administration about fairness, the buffett rule, paying your fair share. and opportunity would be the case that romney tries to make all the time, that he's going to give you a playing field where you will have the opportunity to some day pay his very low millionaire's tax rate. and so opportunity actually polls with these voters at 51%. fairness polls at only 43%. lik with these kind of swing voters, the romney campaign should be able to get in there and gain some ground. >> yes, there is an opening there and it's a very surprising opening, because we have seen since basically last summer,
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last august, when the president pivoted after the debt ceiling crisis to, you know, people paying their fair share, having the wealthy pay more. he's still on that message. and what this poll shows is that the people that they interviewed, that they polled in these swing states, that message doesn't reach them. it's not that they favor one or the other, they just think that he's not talking to me. but if you start talking about opportunity, then you'll get there. then the president will get their ear. he needs to pivot to that message. which is what third way was saying. >> could i say, lawrence, if you look at that poll, however, it also shows that in the end, higher taxes on the wealthy are actually popular. either for fairness or to balance the budget. and i don't think the administration is going to -- or obama's going to make an argument just for fairness. he's often linked it to opportunity. i think you can't run in american politics without talking one way or another about opportunity.
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>> e.j. dionne gets the last word on this one tonight. thanks to e.j. and jonathan capehart for joining me tonight. >> thanks, lawrence. >> good to be with you. coming up, as america closes in on the annual tax paying deadline, democrats plan to spend the week highlighting romney's absurdly low income tax rate of 14% and they want to do something about it. i will reveal my federal income tax rate, which is way more than mitt romney's. and we'll have the latest in the investigation in the killing of trayvon martin and why the special prosecutor decided not to take the case to a grand jury. and in the "rewrite," the brave catholic priest who is trying to rewrite the church rules that he believes are sexist and outdated. and later, will the cult of ryan get paul ryan the republican vice presidential nomination? we'll take a look at sarah palin and herman cain's ridiculous list for the vice presidential
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nbc news is reporting tonight that the special prosecutor could reveal her decision in the trayvon martin case as early as tomorrow. and coming up, why the prosecutor is keeping the case away from a grand jury. next, joe biden sends his first tweet today. and tomorrow the president will turn that little tweet into a full speech about the economy and taxes and how mitt romney gets away with paying a lower federal income tax rate than you and i pay.
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and freshens breath. new tums freshers. ♪ tum...tum...tum...tum... tums! ♪ [ male announcer ] fast relief, fresh breath, all in a pocket sized pack. do you think the millionaire ought to pay more in taxes than the bus driver or less? >> more! >> the obama re-election campaign is betting that you have taxes on your mind this week, as the days tick down to the deadline for filing your tax returns. the obama team is hoping that you will at some point take a break in your frustration of wrestling with that tax return software that you use once a year and then when you take that break, you will focus on the outrage that the richest, major party nominee for president in history pays a lower tax rate than you do. you'll be hearing a lot about the buffett rule this week, from
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the president and his re-election teammates. the tax rule that they want to impose to keep the super rich, like mitt romney, from continuing to get away with paying, as romney has, only 14% in federal income taxes. vice president joe biden sent his very first tweet today. "i'm for the buffett rule, because it just makes sense. like fthe president says, it's not class warfare. it's math." signed by joe. tomorrow, president obama will go to the key campaign state of florida where he will make a speech on the economy, focusing on the buffett rule. today, the obama re-election campaign had this conference call with reporters. >> while middle class families are working to make ends meet, romney has millions of dollars of his personal wealth and investment funds set up in notorious tax havens like the cayman islands. he also had $3 million parked in a swiss bank account. a swiss bank account. >> when's the last time a
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presidential candidate for the united states had a swiss bank account? i think the answer is never! >> romney supports tax policies that reward people like him and now he's just trying to obscure just how much he would benefit by hiding his own financial records. our message to mitt is simple. if you don't have anything to hide, release your taxes just like every other candidate for president does. >> because april 15th falls on a sunday this year, the irs has graciously extended you two more work days to get your taxes done. your official deadline for mailing your tax returns is now midnight, april 17th, if you can find a post office open before midnight on april 17th. on monday, april 16th, democratic majority leader harry reid has scheduled a senate vote on the buffett rule. joining me now are karen finney, former dnc communications director and an msnbc political analyst, and ezra klein, a "washington post" columnist and
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msnbc contributor. ezra, i'm going to give you a quick second to guess what my federal income tax rate is this year. i just signed the document yesterday. >> i'm going with 28%. >> you know, it's been 28% frequently. >> see. >> and actually, last year, it was over 30. and now this year it's 33. i'm hitting 33. >> wow. >> which viewers should know, even though we have a 35% top tax rate, no one pays it, absolutely no one pays it. i have a big fat mortgage deduction that pulls me down and i've thrown in a bunch of charitable contradictions. but ezra, that's an important point. all these rates we talk about at the top end, no one ever pays. but they tend to pay something much closer to it than mitt romney does. >> right. not only does nobody ever pay it, but if you actually do your taxes, i'm always struck by it every year, if you have basic salary income, don't do a lot of deductions or have a huge house or all of that, the tax code
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isn't very complicated. you sort of just, here's your sala salary, you divide it by the marginal rate you pay and you're pretty much done. where the tax code gets complex is people who have a lot of money and thus have to think of a lot of ways to shield that money. and it gets into all kinds of things related to charitable ductions, ways to hide your money, have a swiss bank account, what kind of interest rate you take, what type of capital gains you have. it's largely people on the top end complaining about how difficult it is for them to low ir that are tax rate. if we had a simple tax code that people would really end up hurting on it assuming that we didn't give them a big tax cut are the risk because on a simple tax code, they wouldn't be able to hide so much of their income. >> karen finney, the romney campaign is now being pressured to release nor tax returns than they've already released. the obama campaign is interested in seeing all of the returns
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that apparently romney provided when he was vetted as a possible vp choice four years ago. that's many more than he's already returned. do you suspect the obama campaign is going to succeed with this prosecution of turn over your turns? >> you know, here's the reality, and i'm sure they know it, they don't have to succeed. in the end game, they don't actually have to get romney to release those returns. they keep pressing the question, and he's the one who continually will look like he's hiding something, right? and when you talk about cayman islands and swiss bank accounts, that also alludes to this idea that someone's hiding something. it's a good message frame for them in any number of ways, not the least of which this idea of fairness and income inequality, and that romney is essentially running to be president on a platform that says, hey, i want to keep my tax breaks. i mean, that's essentially what the republicans are going to have to continue to defend, is that he deserves to continue to pay a lower tax rate than most of us. and so that's going to put them on the defense on these issues.
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that's what the democrats are hoping. >> and ezra, beyond tax returns, "the washington post" tom hamburger delivered a really disturbing report about romney's assets and his ability to even within the disclosure requirements for a candidate for president, in the so-called full disclosure, he's able to hide tremendous amounts of his actual assets and we will never know what he actually owns through the assets he owns through bain capital. that seems to me to be as strange a situation for a presidential candidate to find himself as paying this absurdly low income tax rate. >> romney's finances, in a way that i think is very hard to explain, are more different than the average person's, and almost any presidential candidate, certainly that i can remember, or frankly that i know of. and what's weird about that, it's not just that romney is rich. we've had a lot of rich presidential candidates. by the standards of most people,
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almost every presidential candidate has been rich. but what's interesting to me, despite romney having run four years ago, he hasn't simplified his financial life. he wasn't a long shot candidate that suddenly got vaulted into this position, how is it that he still has a swiss bank account. how has he not figured out how to pay his taxes so that he doesn't have a 14% rate. it's the entitlement in it, that he didn't make his taxes look normal to people before he ran. because there are ways to make your taxes lower and there are ways to make them higher, to not take all these deductions and he chose or he was never advised or he chose to not take all of those avenues out of his problem. >> go ahead, karen. >> i think ultimately what's going to be important in the context of the election is that this is all connected again back to this idea of fairness. and as your previous
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conversation showed, and reconducted to a vision about opportunity, which i think the president has done. forto continually be out there. i mean, he says the word opportunity, but at the same time, he's defending this idea that if we keep taxes low for everybody at the top, that's going to create jobs. well, "the wall street journal" basically showed us today that's not actually the case, because they show that the top corporations, they're doing very well, making a lot of money. and where are they creating jobs? outside of this country. >> karen, do you have your taxes done yet? >> i'm getting there. i'm working on it. >> all right! then you got to go. you got to go. you can't come back until your returns are done. karen finney and ezra klein, thank you very much both for joining me tonight. >> thank you. coming up in the "rewrite," why the pope used his holy thursday homily to criticize a catholic priest who has been criticizing him? we'll see how priest versus priest and priest versus pope arguments have always occurred in the catholic church.
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they've occurred publicly and why the church is stronger for it. but first, we learn today that that there will be no grand jury convened to investigate the killing of trayvon martin. that means the future of the case is up to the special prosecutor. charles emblow and an attorney for the family will join me. they remind a nation of the benefits of shopping small. on just one day, 100 million of us joined a movement... and main street found its might again. and main street found its fight again. and we, the locals, found delight again. that's the power of all of us. that's the power of all of us. that's the membership effect of american express.
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a catholic priest is in a public fight with the pope over allowing the ordination of women
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priests. the priest doesn't exactly accuse the pope of waging a war on women. his rhetoric is much more careful than that. he is a priest, after all. and he is carrying on the centuries-old catholic tradition of trying to force change on the church by criticizing the church from within. and next, the special prosecutor investigating the killing of trayvon martin announced that she would not convene a grand jury and told some protesting students today that she understands their frustration and is working as fast as she can to resolve the case. charles emblow joins me next. [ male announcer ] you are a business pro.
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[ laughing ] ♪ [ engine turns over ] [ male announcer ] the all-new subaru impreza®. experience love that lasts. ♪ farmer who says... experience love that lasts. [farmer:] we've gotta protect the land. [announcer:] and, to the consumer who says... [consumer:] the economists make some good points. [announcer:] conocophillips says, you're right. find out how natural gas answers both at powerincooperation.com. for 26 years, this prosecutor, while she's been called fair and tough, has always in noncapital cases not used a grand jury. she figures she's elected to make those decisions, she's going to make the d >> that was hal uhrig, co-counsel for george zimmerman, responding to special prosecutor angela corey's decision today not to bring the killing of
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trayvon martin to a grand jury. attorneys for trayvon family issued this emurised by announcement, and, in fact, are hopeful that a decision will be reached very soon to arrest george zimmerman and give trayvon martin's family the simple justice they have been al g." special prosecutor angela corey met with student protesters who marched 40 miles to sanford, florida, calling for justice for trayvon martin. when they temporarily shut down the sanford police department, angela corey wouldn't meet with them. she arranged to speak with them by phone, presumably in the hopes of diffusing tensions. a few of the students were invited into the police station to speak to the prosecutor on the phone. >> i'm sure, as many of you have tried to talk to her, she didn't give us much details, but sort of seemed to hint that something will be coming very shortly. so we are very excited by that and very bolstered by that. >> joining me now are charles
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emblow, "new york times" columnist, and natalie jackson, co-counsel for the martin family. natalie, what do you make of the prosecutor's announcement that she will not convene a grand jury? >> well, we think that this is the right thing to do. this is not a capital case, it's not a case for a grand jury. and the only reason this would have goen to a grand jury is if there was a passing of the buck, where you didn't want to be involved in something for publicity. it's courageous of her to do this. she's going to make the decision. she has the power and she's going to own that decision. >> charles, the prosecutor's office warned us today to not use this as a factor in any way trying to figure out where this is going, but all the pros i talked to, they see it as an increasing likelihood that she will bring charges since the grand jury is the easier way to
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just wash your hands of the responsibility. >> that's one way to look at it. it's all, at this point, speculation. as natalie just pointed out, only if it was a capital case would it go before a grand jury. no one, not the attorneys for trayvon martin, or for george zimmerman, are suggesting there was premeditation in this case. it wouldn't even make sense, actually, that he would call the cops, then stalk, wanting to kill right before the. cops arrived, and then, you know, try to get his way out of it. so that doesn't even make sense. no one is even suggesting that. that just takes that off the table. it could be the case that this, you know, the state's attorney wants to make an arrest. in fact, the local television station in that market, wftv has, you know, a story today saying that two sources have told them that there is likely to be an arrest this week. they're unnamed sources. you take that with a boulder
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soof salt, not just a grain of salt, but there may be an arrest. it's just as likely that there is some debate within that office as to whether or not they have enough evidence. do they, you know, do they have enough evidence to prove this case beyond a shadow of a t? co as much evidence as they can to make sure they have an airtight case? all of those things are possibilities. we can only speculate at this point. i think it's really prudent for us to step back and say, we don't know at this point. we have to let the investigation play out and the state attorney will make the decision when they're ready to make that decision. >> natalie, you're in touch with some of the witnesses in this case. for example, trayvon's girlfriend. has the special prosecutor talked to her? >> they have. that office has spoken to the girlfriend. and really, she's the connection of all the dots here. we've had the 911 tape, and when i say the 911 tape, i'm talking about george zimmerman's own words. so we've had that.
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when that tape came out, we were sure there would be an arrest. and there wasn't. and then the next thing that we saw, we saw videotape and we once again were sure that an arrest would be made. it wasn't. once we saw the phone records of the teenager, we thought, surely, there's an arrest. the dots have been conducted. this teenage girl says that she heard the argument and that george zimmerman was the provoker. so at this point, we believe that if people just listen and look at the evidence or it's not even evidence right now. what's in the media. with their own eyes and ears, there's enough case -- there's enough information to bring this to a trial and let a jury decide. >> and charles, the advantage the prosecutor has that none of us have is that in her ability to round up all of these witnesses that we know about and evaluate their credibility, which is not something you can really do in the ways that they've appeared on television. and i'm not faulting anyone. it's just the way it is.
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you don't really cross-examinaticross-examine them, you don't really find out heev think about it. so it would seem that the special prosecutor, again, i'm trying to manual what she had in mind today, for example, when she reached out to those protesters and got on the phone with them. other than trying to diffuse tensions at the scene, she seemed to be trying to communicate something positive in a sense to that side of this story. >> well, i mean, i think you raised the crucial point, which is, the state attorney and the special prosecutor have a vantage point that none of us have. you know, there's interest, there's information that comes from people speaking anonymously, speaking behind screens, speaking in shadows, but they have a different van teenage point. they get to talk to the person. they get to question them in the way that a defense attorney would question them. to see if there are holes in
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their testimony, in what would become their testimony, if it were to go to trial. they get to kind of cross-tab all of what they're hearing, one thing against another, and hear from people that we may not even be hearing from. and most importantly, they get to see the medical examiner's report, which none of us have seen. and all the forensic information that none of us have seen. so they have just a higher level of information that anyone in the media can possibly have. so at that point, you do have to step back and say, we must wait until they present whatever they have gathered to the public, to even make some sort of evaluation as to whether or not we believe that they should have gone forward with charges, if they choose not to do that. >> charles emblow, that's the perfect summary of where we stand tonight. thank you for joining us tonight, charles. and natalie jackson, thank you for joining us. >> thank you. coming up, a catholic priest
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is criticizing the pope and the pope is criticizing him right back. the pope is trying to manage a protest by priests over barring women from the priesthood. that's next in the "rewrite." and later, does chris christie's trip to israel improve his position on mitt romney's vice presidential short list? will romney bet that marco rubio can win florida for him? or will the cultish worshippers of paul ryan force romney to choose ryan as his vice choose ryan as his vice presidenti al can today is gonna be an important day for us. you ready? we wanna be our brother's keeper. what's number two we wanna do? bring it up to 90 decatherms. how bout ya, joe? let's go ahead and bring it online. attention on site, attention on site. now starting unit nine. some of the world's cleanest gas turbines are now powering some of america's biggest cities.
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siemens. answers. is the pain reliever orthopedic doctors recommend most for arthritis pain, think again. and take aleve. it's the one doctors recommend most for arthritis pain. two pills can last all day. ♪ i worked at the colorado springs mail processing plant for 22 years. we processed on a given day about a million pieces of mail. checks, newspapers, bills. a lot of people get their medications only through the mail. small businesses depend on this processing plant. they want to shut down 3000 post offices, cut 100,000 jobs. they're gonna be putting people out of work everywhere. the american people depend on the postal service.
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that's good morning, veggie style. hmmm. for half the calories plus veggie nutrition. could've had a v8. with rent2buy from hertz car sales, you skip the lots... and pushy sales people... it's a fast, easy way to buy a used car. three days to try. zero pressure to buy. it's just another way you'll be traveling at the speed of hertz. the catholic church is in tonight's "rewrite." a priest is trying to rewrite the rules barring women from the priesthood and the rule not allowing priests to marry. and the pope has taken notice. that's next in the "rewrite." ♪ ♪
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so the eighty-thousand employees at delta... must anticipate the unexpected. and never let the rules overrule common sense. this is how we tame the unwieldiness of air travel, until it's not just lines you see... it's the world. in tonight's "rewrite," god's rottweiler. who has earned the nickname god's rottweiler? well, first of all, let's take a look at a rottweiler. that might help. there's a nice rottweiler. actually, that's not really fair to rottweilers. they can be kind of scary, almost as scary as pit bulls sometimes, but rottweiler owners will tell you, correctly, that they can be very obedient and very loyal. okay. so who is god's rottweiler? is it, a, this man?
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or b, this man? or c, this man? or perhaps d, this man? or could it be e, this man? those of you who guessed "e" have really got to start watching hbo. the answer is "d," pope benedict xvi earned the nickname god's rottweiler, according to "the new york times," which have that in the lead of their coverage of the pope's holy thursday homily last week. a homily that was directed at this man, the reverend helmut schuyler, an austrian priest who is the leader of a group called preachers initiative, which has issued a call to disobedience, demanding that the catholic church allow the ordination of women priests. allow priests to marry. and allow priests to give holy communion to catholics who have
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divorced and remarried without the cover of an annulment. reverend schuller has the support of 400 austrian priests, as well as priests throughout europe and the united states. father schuller has pointed out that the ban on women priests and the ban on priests marrying is not, in his words, a matter of theology, but of history and tradition and those are constantly evolving, end quote. vatican watchers were struck that the pope decided to call out one of his many dissenting priests from his throne in st. peter's basilica. the pope said, "recently a group of priests from a european country issued a summons to disobedience and at the same time gave concrete examples of the forms this disobedience might take, even to the point of
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disregarding definitive decisions of the church's imagine steer yum, such as the question of women's ordinations, for which blessed pope john paul ii stated ir that the church has received no authority from the lord." though the pope believes he has received no authority from the lord to allow women priests, he did not cite any authority from the lord forbidding women priests. and father schuller told "the new york times" that he was untroubled by the pope's words. "i don't think they were very harsh. there was no threat or sanction implied in his words." many catholics, including catholic priests, like father schuller, have been watching with worry the dramatic decline of the number of priests, especially in the united states, where the number of priests has declined by a third since 1975, and it was declined before that.
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father schuller insists that rewriting the rules of the priesthood, liberalizing those rules, is necessary for the very survival of the priesthood and therefore for the survival of the church, because without the priesthood, there is no roman catholic church. father schuller's criticism of the church's rules is aimed at strengthening the catholic church, not weakening it, and it follows a rich history of such criticism, of the catholic church, from within the catholic church. the roman catholic church's strength and vitality today worldwide is attributable in part to its ability to absorb and react to centuries and centuries of thoughtful criticism from inside and outside the church. father schuller knows what he's up against.
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he doesn't sound like a priest who expects quick action from his church. he has called the vatican, quote, an absolutist monarchy. but father schuller has reason for optimism. he told "the times," "i think that in the history of the church, a lot has changed. even if not always voluntarily, there has been new science, new technology, new practices. the teachings are always changing." vatican watcher palo seems to believe that history may be on father schuller's side. he said, in spite of the tough response of the pope, i think that the calls for reform won't diminish, they will only grow. it's a problem that the vatican will increasingly have to come to terms with. the first married priests and
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the first women pope will owe prayers of thanks to father helmut schuller. [ male announcer ] fighting pepperoni heartburn and pepperoni breath? fight both fast with new tums freshers! concentrated relief that goes to work in seconds and freshens breath. new tums freshers.
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he is well spoken. he is direct. people in florida love him. he has a huge following. he is from florida. florida is going to be one of those key states. >> that was herman cain on who he wants to see get the republican nomination for vice president. another vote for florida senator marco rubio. and remember now, this is herman cain talking. >> he is from florida. florida is going to be one of those key states, but more importantly, colonel allen west is a dedicated patriot.
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he served in the military and he's willing to serve his country some more. >> now, herman cain is not the first irrelevant republican to give mitt romney this kind of advice. >> top of my list is alan welen. i love that he has that military experience. he is a public servant, willing to serve for the right reasons. >> allen west and all the other freshman republican congressmen will not even make it on to the very longest list of republican vice presidential nominee possibilities. and as of tonight, according to online futures market, intrade, here are the top five likely names on the real short list. florida senator marco rubio, new jersey governor chris christie, virginia governor bob mcdonnell, ohio senator rob portman, and wisconsin congressman paul ryan. joining me now to try to shorten the short list is dana milbank, columnist for "the washington post."
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dana, let's go to rob portman first. he was the u.s. trade representative in the bush administration, so he negotiated all these deals with china that romney really hates. and no one outside of those people who just heard me say the words rob portman know who he is, right? >> and he was also bush's budget director, and we know that went very well. but in fairness, he is from ohio, which is a crucial state, and he's very highly regarded. he's a serious man. he's the kind you'd actually want to have involved in government and politics. the problem is, he's extraordinarily boring and when you have a guy like romney who's got this sort of lack of charisma going to add somebody like that to the ticket could be problematic there as well. but he's a serious guy and i've been touting him for some time. in fact, i call him mr. vice president whenever i see him and he doesn't seem to mind. >> okay. vice president marco rubio, who didn't actually win a majority vote in the state of florida. he got that seat with 49% of the
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vote. >> this is one of those picks, lawrence, that looks good on paper, because he could conceivably bring some latinos back into the republican party, and they sorely need them. and certainly, romney will need florida. but this guy's untested. he's only been around a couple of years. things have emerged about his own life story, about his family that suggest that he hasn't had all the vetting because of that quirky race down there in florida, that he got in and it's sort of an unexpected way. yet there's a sense that he could be highly risky and there could be some skeletons in the closet that have yet to emerge. >> now, governor chris christie, i guess republicans have to be reminded that he's the governor of new jersey. and so how does that help a republican presidential ticket? >> well, i'll tell you, lawrence, i saw christie appear as sort of the warm-up act for romney up in new hampshire. he stole the whole show.
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i mean, people love him, audiences love him, and he's definitely got some pizazz there. not entirely clear that he could even carry his own state for romney and not clear that he wants the job and would like to do it, but he certainly has to be put in a serious camp as opposed to the allen wests of the world, who we just entertain ourselves with during this vip stakes. in fact, at "the post," i did one of these cycles, the vip of the week, we could come up with tons and still get it wrong at the end. >> anyone's a better speaker than romney, so i've seen him be better than romney. now, of course -- the cult of paul ryan. when is the last time we put a house member on the vp slot? >> it doesn't happen very often. things worked out well for jerry ford at some point, but paul ryan has the serious credenti

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